Campaigner for homeless stole €27k

A campaigner for the homeless was convicted of stealing almost €27,000 from the bank account an 87-year-old care home patient.

At Ennis Circuit Court, a jury found Josephine O’Brien, aged 59, of Bridge View, Roslevan, Ennis, Co Clare, guilty on nine of the 10 counts of theft between Jul 2006 and Oct 2010.

The court heard that Ms O’Brien used some of the proceeds of the €26,852 to open up a drop-in centre for the homeless at Chapel Lane in Ennis.

Ms O’Brien is a spokeswoman for the Homeless Education and Learning Project in Ennis and recently highlighted the plight of the two Eastern European men who were living in public toilets in Ennis.

Stephen O’Halloran, a patient at St Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis, told the court Ms O’Brien did not have his consent to make the withdrawals totalling €30,152 from his account between 2006 and Oct 2010. He had given Ms O’Brien his ATM card for the account, which received lodgements from his English pension. In a Garda interview, Ms O’Brien said: “I know I shouldn’t have taken the money out, but I did.”

Lorcan Connolly, defending, applied for the extension of the legal aid application to allow a psychiatric report be carried out on Ms O’Brien.

Judge Keyes remanded Ms O’Brien on bail to Jun 18 to Ennis Circuit Court.

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